This PDF file contains scanned images of the index to deaths that occurred in the state of New Jersey. This information was obtained through a successful New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request filed by the non-profit organization Reclaim The Records against the New Jersey Department of Health in the summer of 2018. This is the first time that this information has been made available to the general public, outside of a few early years of data that were previously only available at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton, New Jersey.
As of July 2018, the years of the state death index that are now available include 1901-1903, half of 1920-1924 (only localities starting with A-H), 1925-1929, and 1949-2017. Files prior to 2001 are available in PDF format, with the PDF's made from scanned images of typeset pages and old dot-matrix printouts. The newer files from 2001-2017 are in text spreadsheet files exported from the state's own databases.
As of July 2018, several years of the index are still missing, even the Department of Health's own copies. They are: 1904-1919, the other half of 1920-1924, and 1930-1948. Work is ongoing to try to locate, copy, and/or reconstruct those missing years of the index. (Note that a missing index does not mean that the actual certificates are missing.)
Some years of this death index have more fields of data available than other years; later years of the index tend to provide more information, such as the deceased person's date of birth.
The files between 1949-2000 list all deaths in alphabetical order by surname. But the files from the 1920's list them differently: first sorted by the primary location (the county or major city), then by each of the five years (represented by the single final digit of the four digit year), and only then alphabetically within that one year.
Some of these records give a numeric locality code for the place of death and/or the place of residence of the deceased. To translate those codes into the city or county names, use this locality list for 1949-1984 or this locality list for 1985-present. Unfortunately, the official key to the locality codes that was used prior to 1949 seems to have been lost by the state.
I found a name, now what?
This record set is only the index to New Jersey death records. If you find a name of a relative or other person of interest in this index, you can then place an order for a copy of the original death certificate, which will have much more information on it, such as the person's place of birth, the names of the person's parents and spouse, and their burial location.
For copies of records from January 1918 to the present, you have more options available to you, depending on how quickly you want to receive the record, how much you want to pay, and whether or not you require a certified copy:
If you want a non-certified record from 1918 - 1955, you can either go to New Jersey State Archives in Trenton yourself, or you can hire a genealogist to go on your behalf, to get a non-certified print-out copy made from a reference-only microfilm. Unfortunately, the New Jersey State Archives staff are not allowed to provide this record copy to you, so you cannot order it from them by mail or phone, but you or someone else who is actually in the building can print it.
If you want a non-certified record from 1918 - 1978, you can order a "genealogy" copy directly from the state of New Jersey, but you can only place the order by mail, and it is not expedited. You will have to provide your official identification with your order, but you won't have to prove your relationship to the deceased if the death was more than forty years ago. This method may cost somewhat more than going to the Archives or hiring someone to go to the Archives.
If you want a certified record from 1918 to the present, you will need to order online directly from the state of New Jersey and you will have to provide proof of both your identity and your relationship to the deceased. This method is usually pretty quick, but is also the most expensive one.
This data is in the public domain. There are no usage restrictions or copyrights attached to it. Feel free to use it however you'd like. But if you put it on your website or transcribe it, Reclaim The Records would appreciate a reference note in your "about this database" source box, and/or a link back to our website, just to acknowledge the work and initiative that went into researching and releasing these records back to the public.
July 27, 2018 Subject:
New Jersey Death Index 1949-1984:
In attempting to match the code for place of residence and place of death to the code book that tells you the names of these two places, why is the first set of codes 5 digits long and the codes in the decoder booklet only 3 or 4 digits long? It's of no help if there are no directions telling you which of the 5 digits in a code a person is supposed to use to decipher in the actual decoding booklet.